What Do You Mean You Don’t Want to Go to Venice?

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Over the weekend American Airlines loaded some new seasonal routes from the US to Europe in their system for travel next summer. When they did this there was very temporarily a plethora of business class award space available for multiple people on the same flights. This. Doesn’t. Happen. Often.


I not only wrote about it, but put a flight for ourselves on hold for next summer from Dallas – Chicago – Venice. I couldn’t easily make it work all the way from Houston with the time I had available, but getting ourselves to Dallas is easy enough, so flying from Texas to Chicago then on to Venice in the late spring/early summer in lie-flat business class on the Dreamliner for 57,500 American miles plus $5.60 in taxes each was a huge win in my book.

it would require swapping out some timeframes on the Travel 2020 planning list I created, but that is no big deal…to me anyway. I figured we could fly into Venice on this award I have on hold and explore there for a few days, then take a train over to Milan and chill at the Park Hyatt Milan (on Hyatt credit card nights we have to burn), and then head north into Switzerland. We would end up in Zurich where we would ultimately fly home Zurich – Amsterdam- Houston on United business class saver awards I found. None of us have ever been to Italy, and only I had ever been to Switzerland. This plan sounded outstanding in my mind. The only real hitch was convincing grandparent(s) to keep the then almost-three-year-old while we were away as I really think this trip is best geared for the adults and our then eight year old, if possible.

I had found American Airlines business class saver awards on the outbound, United business class saver awards on the return, fancy stays like the Park Hyatt Milan were likely part of the equation, miles and points would cover the bulk of it, and I thought Josh would sign off on this plan as quickly as my two year old signs off on chocolate cake.

I was wrong.

When I found myself uttering phrases like “What do you mean you don’t want to go to Venice?”, I felt like I had entered a time-warp back to the days when he was quite the reluctant traveler. I honestly thought he was kidding at first. I really thought we were passed the reluctant traveler days and I had learned the types of trips he would happily agree to, and business class to Europe was squarely on the list. I was wrong. Sort of.

A couple of things simultaneously went wrong that led to me thinking he would love a trip that he wasn’t ready to commit to. First, he liked the idea of having a list of where we would go and when, and spontaneously being willing to dramatically deviate from that list pretty dramatically apparently didn’t sit well. He didn’t like the idea of adding another big trip, nor did he like the idea of not doing one of the things we already had penciled in for next summer. I agree we aren’t in a position to add another big trip (we may have a large purchase coming up that will require time and money), so he is right it would mean at least delaying something we thought we would do next summer.

Which brings me to the second problem we had working against this plan. Josh has found some places he really enjoys visiting, but the problem with exploring new places is that with limited resources (time, money, etc.) it makes it hard to keep getting back to the places you know you enjoy. He has very much enjoyed trips to Europe, but he really wants to get back to northern Europe and places like Ireland, Scotland, and heading further north into Scandinavia.

Josh on the Irish coastline

He has never had an intrinsic interest in visiting southern Europe. I get it, I mean there are certainly places around the world that don’t call to me in the same way that others do. If I’m being honest, Venice probably wasn’t in my Tier 1 list of destinations, but it certainly looks fabulous enough for a visit when the stars align to take you there. If you don’t believe me, check out my friend’s post from a few years ago on using SPG points to stay at the the Gritti Palace. I also have no doubts that our whole crew would love heading north into the mountains and Switzerland, but exploring northern Italy while we are already there also seemed reasonable and logical.

SPG Gritti Palace

From his perspective, if he is going to spend time in Europe, he wants to spend it in the places he knows he likes, or thinks that he will like, instead of being in places that he doesn’t think he will like as much. I think he would quite enjoy at least the majority of the trip as it stood, but I get where he is coming from.

So what to do? Well, I can let the held flights go when their hold expires in a couple days and forget the whole thing. I can just take my oldest daughter and go on the adventure without him, but that still probably means something gets scrapped or delayed next summer. I can try to see if American still allows name changes on held awards and have someone else go in his place. I could just take both girls and really have an ‘interesting’ adventure. I can push forward as planned and hope he loves it in the end as he has other experiences in the past. Or, I can go back to my tip #3 in getting reluctant spouses on board…go where they want to go.

I can’t change that the held flight goes to Venice, but after two nights in Venice we could just head somewhere else entirely in Europe and skip the geographically logical idea of the train trek to Milan and Switzerland that I originally came up with. I’m betting if we booked a nonstop Aer Lingus flight to Dublin after two nights in Venice that he would be happy with that plan. Those flights are about $100 each, so not a terrible amount of money to experience a bit of Venice and then head to somewhere that he would be legitimately excited about. We both really enjoyed Ireland and will have not yet returned in over five years by the time next summer rolls around. Links to reports from that post to London and Ireland can be found here

Look what youngin’s we were

I was admittedly taken by surprise when my historically reluctant traveler again became reluctant with a proposed trip that I thought he would love. He’s right though that while my philosophy of going where the good travel opportunities take you helps maximize your miles, points, and dollars, if you don’t sometimes force the situation a bit in order to get to where you really want to be, then you aren’t really maximizing anything at all.

As of right now I’m not 100% sure what we will do, but combining the flight we have on hold with a cheap nonstop flight to where he really wants to be a couple days later is the leading solution in my mind at the moment. If you are asking someone who isn’t an innate traveler to travel, you probably have to at least be willing to adjust the destinations a bit as needed to get them on board. It’s a lesson I learned years ago, but apparently needed a refresher course on.

If you have similar stories I would love to hear them!

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  1. Venice isn’t going anywhere. It’s unique and wonderful in its own way, but not without drawbacks too. You can always visit another time if visiting there now is not a priority… even if it means flying in coach.

    Then again, to me, air travel is a means of getting from Point A to Point B. Thus, the added expense in miles or dollars is not worth it to me.

  2. It sounds like you may need to let this one pass you by. I totally get it– you found the space and are all, “Let’s go!” Venice may be sinking, but it will still be there a while and other award space will open up. Venice in the summer is super crowded and hot (we went in September at the end of peak season, but the cruise ships were still there and it’s a bit of a mess on those days. Think walking like a pack of sardines crowded). I’m not sure a summer visit would push your husband in the direction of wanting to go back again, even if you go someplace else afterwards. What you are proposing will still take time and money (water taxi fare to airport, waiting around in airport for flights, or taking the train will all cut into your actual vacation time) and when you travel with him your time seems to be limited as it is, so would you really see much of anything in either place that way? Part of the fun of Venice is wandering and getting a bit lost, which is tough to do in a short amount of time and when it’s crowded. Can Grandma Points go with you and someone else watch the toddler? FWIW, the Park Hyatt Milan was a great place to chill, especially when we got upgraded to a Terrace Suite!

  3. We went to Venice for the Bienalle in 2015 while also on our honeymoon. Going back for the Bienalle and Regata Storica this year.

    If you like modern art, push your Venice trip to 2019 for the next Bienalle. Go in 2019 and hit the Luminaria in Lucca, Feast of the Rificolona in Florence and the Regata Storica in Venice.

  4. Let it go. Admittedly, redemptions are getting harder and harder. But, really, when you’re in the game as deep as you are and as connected as you are to the various deals, the deals are like buses. You really want to jaywalk to jump on the one that’s about to pull out, but there’s always another one coming.

    This game can spoil you to travel. And that’s a bit of a shame, but it is what it is.

    Take him to Oslo, or whatever.

  5. I sometimes have the same problem with my wife. She loves Europe so only wants to go there and ignore asia and central/south america. Even though the times I’ve convinced her to go to there, she’s loved it. Sigh… guess we just have to compromise. P.S. Good luck with the house purchase

    • It’s not exactly a house if it all works out, but thank you none the less, and I understand totally about compromise and convincing.

      • Oh dang, I thought for sure that’s what you were hinting at. Maybe only because we’re looking to buy our first house and I was projecting. Now I’m really curious, but good luck either way.

        • Ha ha – very exciting with your first house! I have to admit I love that we live in a very fairly priced house we bought when we weren’t sure if we would have to carry two mortgages on modest salaries for years…thankfully we were able to drop down to one pretty quickly. It’s not that far from being paid off, which is awesome, even if it isn’t as fancy as others. Ha! As to the potential purchase, I just don’t want to jinx it, but had to mention it as it does play into the limited trip planning. It has been years in the works and may now be close. I’ll be happy to share if it all works out in the coming months…fingers crossed.

  6. Add Zermatt switzerland!! You will adore this little ski town with great summer hiking and stay at grand hotel zermatahoff thru FHR and they will pick you up in a horse drawn carriage at train station !! Take cog train up Italian alps and hike down one day and then gondola up to ice castle next day and hike down. Swiss Alps in the shadow of the Matterhorn :)even my reluctant traveler adored this trip.

  7. I tend to think it’s a bit of a mistake to let the redemption possibility overrule the desire for a particular location. I too have a spouse that whilst in the past has been willing to jump onboard with whatever crazy idea I might have, has suddenly become a bit reticent to get onboard the crazy train. I think while some of us are happy to be spontaneous and go just about anywhere, others like our spouses are more about it being what they want. One thing I’ve learnt to entice my husband is to lead off the trip with his desired destination and on the back end throw in what my real purpose for the trip is. I would have sold the above trip as let’s go back to Ireland but BTW we have to go via Venice first. That said, I absolutely adore train travel through Switzerland, Italy and Germany. Have to agree with other comments that Venice would be an unpleasant zoo during peak season.

    • Vicky, FTW! If this had been the presentation, “Hey, we can return to Dublin but can only get BizClass through ” I would have celebrated, rather than hedged. Now we know…

  8. I think that if you let the award space control where you go, you don’t ultimately come out ahead in this “game.” While it might be the difference if you want to go on spring break in Miami, Cancun, Tampa, or Puerto Rico and are fine with whichever has award availability, I wouldn’t jump to take this trip that you don’t really have to take just because there is space. That said, it does hurt to pass up that deal. But if Josh doesn’t want to go there, ultimately he won’t enjoy the vacation that much.

  9. I feel like I could have written this! My spouse adores Europe: he would happily go back to London, Barcelona, Paris, Burgundy, or Dublin over and over again. It took me 15 years to get him to Asia — and that only happened because I have family there that he admitted we should visit.

    So I’m with you on the “Venice, then someplace the spouse will love” plan. We’ve done that — every time we go to Seoul to see my family, we also go someplace that intrigues him. So far we’ve hit Hong Kong, Macau, and Tokyo. For next year, I found business class availability between Seoul and Sydney on Asiana using LifeMiles, so we’re tacking on Sydney to our annual Seoul trip.

  10. I get having a preference for certain places, but business class to Venice for free with free hotels is something 0.1% of the population knows how to make happen and even those folks have to wait for stars to align. What a shame.

  11. If it involves Venice + summer, take it from Disney and LET IT GO.

    I have heard bad words used to describe Venice in summer.

    There will be other killer redemptions in your future, don’t worry.

    • We went last June. I was concerned about crowds, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had read. I think there is a certain romantic, quiet cozy Venice that is remembered fondly by those of us who visited in years past that is hard now to recreate. But you can still enjoy it even in summer.

  12. MP, we always wanted to go to Croatia. I grabbed two biz tix LAX-PHL-VCE. We will visit my #1 favorite square in the world (San Marcos) and head to Slovenia and Croatia.
    Why don’t you go to VCE then OSL or Bergen Norway, then fly out of ARN or CPH? Your hubby might like that? I just came back from Scandinavia, I though Norway was really beautiful.

    • Was about to suggest the same thing- fly to Venice and then go to Croatia. Haven’t been yet to Croatia but have heard amazing things from multiple people. Have been to Venice and not much desire to go back. Crowds aren’t my thing, and Venice, even in May (when we went), is all about crowds.

  13. Hey Summer!

    I love Venice. It’s like being inside a book. It’s amazing and then whole time I was there it didn’t feel quite real. However, of the three days we were there I never saw a good park for C to run out some of her energy. I’m not saying there is not one, but I didn’t see it and I usually seek out parks to get a little green in on city visits. That might be something to consider because I know it’s helpful for the littles to get some of that excess energy out.

    I also understand the desire to go back to places we’ve already been. I’m never satisfied with our first trip somewhere because I always see where my thinking was wrong on something or things could have gone smoother if I had done this or that another way. For example, I’m pretty sure I messed up Hawaii so I need another go at that. On the other hand, I’ve already figured out where all in the world I want to go and the amount of vacation time I get and divided that by my age and figured out that logically I’m not going to get to see everything I want to see. It makes me constantly push for more time, more, more, more. And I drive my husband and his business partner insane. After all, why could I possibly need all of this time off?

    It’s a balancing act. And luckily there really is no wrong answer here. Good luck!

  14. My wife is not a reluctant traveler and is up for pretty much anything, but I do tend to add in other destinations to the ones she asks to go to. First it was Germany to take her father back after more than 50 years away, to which I added France and London (and she loved Versailles, although her favorite was Germany). Then it was Athens, a dream destination for 30 years, to which I added Istanbul, Egypt and Jordan, (and brief time in London and New York)and Athens ended up being the least favorite of the places on the trip (although she was pretty happy with other parts of Greece). Last year, it was Beijing and the great wall and for the kids, Japan. Although she loved the great wall, she didn’t love Beijing, but did love my add ons of Shanghai (our family of 6 was at Shanghai Disney the second day it was open), Hong Kong and Macau, her favorite parts of the trip. I tried adding Tahiti and Easter Island onto her desired destination of Hawaii, but it would appear that might be a bridge too far! Now looking at adding Lisbon and Vienna to a trip to Morocco!

  15. I don’t think your pic is the Gritti Palace. Stayed there last year and had a lovely brunch overlooking the Grand Canal. I don’t see any patio space in the pic.

  16. Check hotel availability for your days in Venice. I grabbed 3 award tickets for the end of May. There is an Arcitectural exhibit there, starting last week of May. Many hotels not available. Some require at least 5 night stay. Palazzo Gritti is 1200 EUR per night or 35K SPG a night

  17. Forget him, let him travel to boring Northern Europe and he can have fun staring at all of the mountains and trees by himself. I am sure you can find plenty of volunteers here that would love to go on a trip to Italy with you.

    • Well I love Northern Europe too, so I wouldn’t call it boring by any stretch, but I’m also all for a taste of Italy. I honestly have no clue what we will end up doing, but I know we are very lucky to have these opportunities at all.

  18. I booked a trip last month for Venice for 3 of us. However, only in coach from Philly. Also planning on taking the train to Milan and have 3 nights booked at the Park Hyatt. From there, heading to Mallorca to check out their new Park Hyatt (yes, it’s a Hyatt theme because after next year, I won’t have Globalist status). I”m thinking my 7 year old will love the canals of Venice. I hope you are able to sort this out. I like the idea of using it as a springboard to other places in Europe!

    • Sounds lovely! I know my seven year old would love it! I’ve only heard good things about the PHs in that area!

  19. You’ve probably already made your decision by now, but I get where your husband is coming from. I’m a planner and have a hard time deviating from the plans I’ve laid out, even to chase a good deal. I’m fairly new to the points/miles game but so far I’m approaching it by choosing my destination(s) first, then working on earning points/miles to help me get there. I may not get completely free trips, or all the very best deals, but with limited time/money I’d rather go where I really want to go even if it costs me a little more to get there.

  20. I loved Switzerland! You can start in Venice and then take train to Milan. I’d only stay there 1 night- really didn’t like the city- then stop at Lake Como. We stayed in Varenna there and it was gorgeous. Then take the scenic Bernina express to Davos, Switzerland. You could do some hiking there and cable cars. The hotel gives you a pass. Then onto Lucerne to see Mt Pilatus, Mt. Rigi etc. We had an awesome time in Switzerland!

  21. I feel for you. I came across a flight sale and tried to get my husband on board, trying to sell him about the beauty of Venice that we will see together. Well, it turned into an argument and then I blurted out, “I’m going by myself!”

    I was a little hesitant to do go alone, but knew he will never go with me just because he didn’t have that desire to see Italy (he’s not much of a traveler).

    I booked a flight for myself (5 nights in Venice and 3 nights in Florence) and started to plan a trip for myself! I was scared for a few moments, but it quickly turned to excitement. I started to learn a little Italian to prepare for my trip.

    I stayed in the Cannaregio district (locals live here and not overwhelmed with tourist) of Venice in a 2 bedroom home (whole house to myself!) with every window looking out to the canal!! I drank Orange Fanta (you have to try this!) every day, ate delicious food and cruised the beautiful city on my own in the day and night. I did not feel unsafe at all and walked “home” after midnight! I also spent a few days in Florence visiting museums, leather stalls and food shops. It was such a wonderful trip that I want to go back again and again. I did get my husband to accompany me on a trip to the Azores in a few months. I will try to sneak in an overnight trip to Lisbon! mwahahaha!

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